I've only had my hands on the codex for a few days, so I'm still wallowing in the nostalgic shock of going from a 4th Ed codex to a 6th Ed one. And oh what a change! Let's look at the before-after picture, shall we?
HQAzrael - possibly the single biggest change in the codex; certainly the biggest change to the special characters of the First Legion.
Old Azrael- overcosted and lackluster, Azrael rarely showed up on the field. In fact I don't recall ever seeing him in play. His very standard Company Master Plus statline is complemented with very yawn-worthy equipment; artificer armor, master-crafted weapons, and the Lion's Helm, which confers a 4+ to him and any unit he joins.
Granted, the combi-plasma is nice, especially with the reroll, and the Sword of Secrets grants a nice +2 S buff, but for his points cost, he doesn't really bring much to the table.
New Azrael- A reduction in points cost and some additional buffs will, I think, make Azrael the new MVP for 6th Edition. His artificer armor grants him Feel No Pain on a 6, The Lion's Wrath is pretty much the same but with the added ability of Blind (which I can see working nicely with some of the Initiative debuffs the army has available).
Top that off with Inner Circle and being able to pick his own Warlord trait, and you've got the makings of a nice - OH MY GOD! HE MAKES DEATHWING AND RAVENWING INTO TROOPS!?!?!
Yeah I guess I don't have to read any more of the HQ section! Next!
Belial - the old favorite
Okay I suppose I owe Belial at least a cursory glance. After all, internet wisdom has it that he was the only cost-effective HQ choice in the old codex.
Old Belial- yep, Belial was good; he was the cheapest HQ, he made Terminators scoring, plus he had free equipment swap outs and a very reasonable cost. He was my default choice for any Dark Angels list.
New Belial- yowch! He's not cheap anymore! A point increase of almost 50% pretty much dethrones him as the most efficient HQ slot. However, he still makes Deathwing units troops, and his melee weapon has been upgraded to wound on a 2+. Not bad!
His special abilities are where he really shines, however. He gets Precision Shot on a 5+ instead of 6+, plus Deathwing Assault, Inner Circle and Vengeful Strike. The fact that he an dhis attached unit don't scatter when deep striking, coupled with Vengeful Strike and the Hunt warlord trait clearly marks this guy as your enemy HQ killer. Throw him in there with a big unit of shooty terminators and bomb the enemy warlord.
Next up, Sammael and Asmodai!